Can Your Plant a Landscape in the Summer?

Many people put their landscaping plans on hold because of the drought and water restrictions during the past few years. With all the rain we’ve had this past spring, those concerns have been taken care of with a vengeance so it’s no surprise that our phones have been ringing off the wall with people asking us to re-do their landscapes this year. Now the question is, “I’ve waited for the droughts to stop, then I waited for the rains to stop, now it’s summer – do I have to wait until next year to re-do our landscape?”

It may sound self-serving; but in North Texas, you really can plant in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Plants around here are just like people – the closer they get to summer, the more they grumble. That said, we install landscapes all year, even in the summer, and we lose very few plants to the heat. Why? One reason is we know how to water correctly (in case you missed it, here is my watering PDF.) Additionally, and just as important, we choose our plants carefully. Years ago, a landscaper friend told me “plants in Texas don’t have to be heat tolerant, they have to be flameproof.” That’s certainly true. They have to be able to survive 106 degree weather, but they also have to be able to survive 6 degree weather. They have to be able to survive several years of drought, but they also have to be able to survive flooding rains. Does that leave us with only rocks and cactus? Actually, no. Here are a few plants that I have found work well in North Texas:

Nandinas. People seem to love these or hate them. The people who say they hate them are usually talking about the original one, called heavenly bamboo, because it spreads aggressively and grows as high as nine feet tall. Or people have nandina nanas, which Neal Sperry calls chlorotic basketballs because they have a sickly yellow look to them. There are three types that we use a lot in landscapes. Compact nandina grows to about five feet tall and then stops, turning into a great hedge that never has to be trimmed. Gulf stream nandina can be used near your front door because it grows to about four feet, which is just the right height to frame your entry without being so tall that you feel like you’re squeezing past it to get to the door. Harbor dwarf nandinas grow to about two feet tall, which is the perfect height for placing in front of windows. All of these have a beautiful, feathery look; turn red in the winter; and rarely need to be trimmed. Most importantly, they don’t like wet feet but they do fine with very little extra water – even during droughts.

Variegated Sedge. This is a fairly new plant we’ve been using lately, and one that is Texas tough. Why? Variegated sedge is a tame version of one of the toughest weeds we have in this area, nutsedge. It grows about a foot tall and has a beautiful cream color that works well as a ground cover.

Kaleidescope Abelia. Another fairly new plant, kaleidescope abelia, stays fairly low and gets its name from the different colors its leaves turn as they mature. It stays mostly yellow, which can be a nice contrast to a green backdrop, plus it has small white blooms. This is plant that does just fine during our hot summers.

Hollies. Finally, hollies are a gift to Texas. Sun, shade, cold, hot – they just don’t care, and they almost never have insect problems. My favorite shrubs are dwarf yaupons, carissa hollies, dwarf burford, and Nellie R. Stevens hollies. Yaupon hollies and savannah hollies make great trees.

I can talk plants all day long but this is supposed to be a ‘Quick Tip’, so let me end by saying that watering correctly and choosing the right plants is even more important than choosing the season you are installing your landscape.

If you have questions or need help, give us a call at 972-495-6990 or email me at [email protected]. We have more than 30 years experience in landscape design in North Texas (Download the Village Green Landscape Portfolio.) From outdoor kitchens and flagstone patio to water features and plantings, Village Green can help you with a one-of-a-kind landscape design and installation. I’d be happy to give you a free estimate on any landscaping work (we’re currently booking late summer and early fall landscape projects.)